Ever love someone so much it literally hurts to see them suffer and your heart just breaks?
Ever feel like you have so much empathy for others, even strangers, that you cannot help but take in their pain?
I get it. As a sensitive and empathic person, I feel deeply. So much so that for years I had third eye migraines because I did not want to “see” other people’s pain. But thanks to many amazing spiritual teachers I have learned the difference between sympathy and compassion.
That distinction was incredibly important for me to remember recently as I witnessed someone I love in a lot of pain. It was so hard to see this person suffering. My heart literally hurt. I wanted to fix, solve, rescue – anything to make their pain stop. But I couldn’t. The only thing I could do, the only loving thing I could do, was just hold a space of unconditional love and compassion. I share more about this in today’s vlog.
Knowing the difference between sympathy and empathy is key to not taking on someone else’s pain. Sympathy is not love, it is judgment. When we have sympathy for someone, we are feeling bad for them. We feel sorry for them. We believe that what they are going through is “bad.” We see them as a victim.
Empathy is about compassion. Compassion means being with suffering. “Co” means “with” and “passion” means “suffering.” When we are in the loving energy of compassion, we are simply with the person. We are not judging, fixing, solving or rescuing.
Now I know this is REALLY HARD especially when it comes to the people you love. Seeing your child hurt is unbearable. Seeing your spouse suffer is painful. Seeing anyone you care about struggling is gut-wrenching.
But if we take on their pain or think we should make it go away two things happen. First, we deplete our own energy by taking on someone else’s pain. Second, we forget we are not God and the person is on his or her own spiritual path.
I really get that when we see someone we love suffering, we want to do something! Do not under estimate the power of love and compassion. Holding space, listening, loving, hugging, and reflecting to the person the strength we see in them is doing something!
Love heals, not pity. Choose compassion over sympathy.
And to all my fellow empaths and highly sensitive people, please do not internalize other people’s pain. We are not here to be saviors. We are here to bring more love, compassion, and understanding to the world. We do that through compassion and by holding strong in the knowing that every person is connected to the Divine and they have the inner resources they need to heal. Sure, we can support, direct and guide – but we are not here to save.
Leave that to God.
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